[Ed. note: This article contains light spoilers for the conclusion of episode 2 of Rings of Power.]
Our encounters with orcs in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power are fairly limited. Despite their limitations, theyre comparable to what weve seen on screen previously. Though they are still a threat, they are no longer a swarm. Instead, the Amazon show shows how terrifying one is.
The Lord of the Rings has taken a risk before, but Rings of Power has carved out its own niche here. When Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi) goes to warn the localspeople that a nearby town fell to who knows what, it feels more classically drawn from a horror film, as her neighbors wave away her worries as flights of fancy. But it also marks the differentness with the orcs: Theyre more concerned about a returning occupying force than the whispers of
In these early scenes, Rings of Power treats its orcs with distinction: theyre no longer the horde introduced in The Fellowship of the Ring, who jumped from a cliff in their rush to defeat their enemy, but a singular, terrifying monster quietly climbing into Bronwyn's house. We can see its skull mask in its fuzzy profile, but we only notice its full splendor once it has found Bronwyn in the cupboard.
The orc here is still a malicious creature, appearing like a flayed person, and a foe whose fighting ability is still bested by a mother and her son, in a way that a lot of the rest of the Rings of Power cant quite grasp.
This is certainly enough to entice Bronwyn and her fellow townspeople to seek out the elves at the first light. And while theres still a lot we still don't know about how Rings of Power will (or wont) alter the Tolkiens canon, it feels like a step in the right direction. With the threat posed by only one orc, it illuminates the bone-chilling fear of every orc showdown.